Master Gardener: Native Plant Mystery and Adventure – Part II
By Marci Moore, Coweta Master Gardener Extension Volunteer
Part I in October explained the basics of maintenance and benefits of choosing native plants. Now consider adding natural color to your garden throughout the year.
As you plan next year’s garden, consider adding native plants. You don’t have to convert your whole landscape. Start by adding a few to your existing garden.
For the past three years Master Gardener Extension Volunteers (MGEVs), under co-chairs Pat Farmer and Dale Senko, have been adding natives to the habitat at the James E. McGuffey Nature Center. MGEVs have used this area to learn more about native plants and try out different types and varieties. They have installed native trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers along the trails.
By monitoring survival rates, they see what does well and in which type of location. Each season the nature trail presents another view of natives. Plants are chosen by environmental requirements, color and attributes at different seasons.
There’s a great link to see more about the terrific restoration project at the McGuffey Nature Center on the Georgia Native Plant Society website: https://gnps.org/conservation/restoration/james-e-mcguffey-nature-center-trails-restoration-project/.
Consider adding native plants to your landscape to create seasonal interest and alternatives to overused non-native plants. By adding plant diversity you will be providing birds and insect pollinators the food and shelter they need. If you want to help the Monarch butterfly, then use this link to learn about another native plant, the swamp milkweed, which is their primary food source, http://botgarden.uga.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/milkweedinformation.pdf.
The following suggestions are only a few of the many native plants that will create seasonal interest and add color to your outdoor decor. Be sure to select natives and not non-natives and cultivars using the same common name. Use the University of Georgia’s native plant publications as a guide. They are available at www.extension.uga.edu/publications.html. Bulletin 1339 covers native plants.
Spring – Flame azaleas (there are many native azaleas with different colors and bloom times to choose from), fringe tree, columbine, foam flower, blue eyed grass, bleeding hearts and celandine poppy.
Summer -Plumleaf azaleas, oak leaf hydrangea, bottlebrush buckeye, sourwood tree; magnolia and native coneflowers
Fall – Red maple, sweet pepperbush, Georgia aster, hearts- a- burstin, joe-pye weed and cinnamon fern
Winter – Winter red holly, anise, wood fern; keep those native coneflower heads standing for the birds during the winter.
Mark your calendars for April 13, 2019 for the Coweta MGEV Spring Plant Sale at the County Fairgrounds. We will offer native plants at the sale and a plant list will be available closer to sale time.
Visit the McGuffey Nature Center, located at the County Fairgrounds at 255 Pine Rd, Newnan, GA., to see different native species during the different seasons. Pick up the MGEV brochure at the Extension Office, and welcome native plants into your yard! It will become addictive!